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Articles by Frank O'Donnell

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  • A celebration of hot air on Broadway

    No, you couldn't make this one up.

    It's a meeting, starting Sunday, of hundreds of "scientists" and propagandists, convening to denounce the proposition that global warming is real.

    It's like a gathering of the Flat Earth Society. Or, since this meeting literally is taking place on Broadway, it recalls the great Preston Jones play, The Last Meeting of the Knights of the White Magnolia, which did run briefly on Broadway.

  • A view behind the scenes at the EPA and the White House

    It is now less than four weeks until the EPA announces its decision on whether to change current national standards for ozone or smog. And things are getting very interesting behind the scenes.

    Officially, according to the White House Office of Management and Budget website, the EPA has not yet transmitted its plan to the White House for review. The truth is, the EPA is obviously being picked at by the OMB already.

    The Bush administration is just trying to keep the details of this matter as secret as possible. (Some business lobbyists have heard that the EPA is pushing a tougher new standard, though weaker than that recommended by their science advisers.)

    Despite the efforts at secrecy, some information is creeping out as EPA puts information in its official regulatory docket. (You can see this for yourself here by searching for docket number EPA-HQ-OAR-2005-0172. )

  • Federal appeals court strikes down pro-industry Bush mercury rule

    As Grist readers know, today a federal judge struck down the EPA's controversial mercury cap-and-trade system.

    The decision (PDF) is just the latest in a series of successful court challenges to pro-industry Bush environmental rules.

    This did not come as a shock. It has been commonly assumed in D.C. that the Bush administration's attempt to pretend that mercury is not toxic when it comes out of a power plant smokestack would be judged illegal.

    Despite this decision, however, mercury cleanup will continue to languish, because the Bush crowd will continue foot dragging. Their gambit bought the industry an extra five years, at least.

    The decision is a strong argument for Congress to step in and pass the power plant legislation introduced by Senator Tom Carper of Delaware.

  • Researchers find corn ethanol, switchgrass could worsen global warming

    Some very respected researchers today have lobbed a real bombshell into the energy public policy world: they have concluded that ethanol produced both by corn and switchgrass could worsen global warming.

    In other words, Congress really blew it last year when it mandated a massive increase in biofuels (an action coated with green language but really an effort by both political parties to cater to farm states). This is also a slap at President Bush's effort to paint himself as something other than an oil man.

    The new findings, led by separate teams from Princeton University and the University of Minnesota conclude that the land use-based greenhouse gas emissions would overwhelm possible emission reductions.